The Criterion Collection, despite being highly admirable for releasing a bunch of amazing independent, foreign and classic films, sadly doesn’t have a lot of animated releases under its belt. It’s a very limited roster of films including Fantastic Mr. Fox, Fantastic Planet, Watership Down, and their newest addition, WALL-E.
There are a ton of animated films that would be perfect choices to join the collection. Whether it be the fantastical surrealism of Spirited Away, or Flee‘s grounded and intense reality. Animation is definitely a medium that goes underappreciated, and the Criterion Collection would be a perfect way to give some of these amazing films the limelight they deserve.
‘Perfect Blue’ (1997)
It’s honestly quite astonishing that a Satoshi Kon film hasn’t made it into the Criterion Collection yet. Any of his films would make a great choice, but Perfect Blue is the obvious standout. The film follows a famous singer who retires to pursue a career in acting. However, this decision devolves into a dreadful nightmare as she loses her sense of reality while becoming a victim of several horrific acts.
Perfect Blue is often regarded as Kon’s best film, and therefore would be a perfect addition to celebrate the unique style he brought into Japanese animation as well as feeling right at home as a truly mind-bending and stylistic feature.
Anomalisa is a highly masterful stop-motion animated film made by the collective genuineness of Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson. The film tells the story of a man who lives a bland and monotonous life, but he sees a glimmer of hope when he meets a lively woman during a business trip.
This film would be a perfect addition to the Criterion Collection because Kaufman sadly hasn’t had any additions since his work on Being John Malkovitch, which was the first film he ever wrote, but didn’t direct. It would be great to see some of his directed work added to the collection, and what better option than this unique animated masterpiece? Its addition would celebrate the amazing filmmaking achievement that went into this meticulous picture.
Flee is a Danish-animated documentary that recounts the events of a gay man named Amin Nawabi and how he flees from his home country of Afghanistan. The film is incredibly powerful as it showcases the intense journey of Nawabi’s escape to Denmark as a refugee.
The Criterion Collection is no stranger to adding documentaries to their collection, and Flee is a great choice. Showcasing a truly gripping story, whilst also being presented in a very stylistic way. The reason why the film was animated was actually an intentional choice in order to protect the identity of Nawabi.
Wolfwalkers is a very special animated film, consisting of such a distinct flair of style. It tells the story of a girl who discovers that she has magical shape-shifting powers that transform her into a wolf come nightfall. However, she lives within a town that views wolves as demonic beasts and magic as pagan slander.
On a visual level, this is one of the most spectacular-looking animated films of recent years, and maybe even of all time. There is such great attention to detail, in a style that is equally rugged, enchanting, and polished. It’s a very visually marvelous film, with a world and story that’s easy to love and immerse within.
Persepolis is a co-produced French and Iranian animated coming-of-age film that tells the story of a young girl living through the conditions of the Iranian Revolution in the 1970s. The film is a stylized adaptation of a graphic novel with the same name, based on events that the writer and co-director of the film (Marjane Satrapi) actually experienced.
The film is presented in a memorable monochromatic format, capturing the dreary nature of the time frame as well as the style of the graphic novel. It’s a very great film that does a good job at capturing the experiences of a child in an environment surrounded by conflict.
‘The Lion King’ (1994)
The introduction of WALL-E into the collection opens the possibility for other Disney films to join. If there’s any other Disney film that should be added the soonest, it’s definitely The Lion King. The iconic film tells the story of a young lion cub named Simba who will eventually follow in his father’s footsteps in becoming king of the pride lands. However, this hereditary is foiled as Simba’s evil uncle Scar conjures a plan to steal the throne.
Despite this film’s fame and recognition in being an animated classic, it feels like it would fit perfectly within the Criterion Collection. It’s a truly poetic and beautiful film with some of the most breathtaking animated sequences ever put to screen.
‘It’s Such a Beautiful Day’ (2012)
It’s Such a Beautiful Day is a combined collection of three short films from the wonderful mind of Don Hertzfeld. The film tells the story of a fictional character named Bill who struggles with failing memories and attempting to repair his shattered psyche.
The film would be a perfect addition to the Criterion Collection, as a surreal animated film with a lot of deep and methodical purpose. The film, however, is quite short, only clocking out at just over an hour. This would be a perfect opportunity to release the film in a little collector’s box-set alongside some of Hertzfeld’s short films, including the World of Tomorrow series.
‘Spirited Away’ (2001)
If there’s any film from Studio Ghibli that deserves a Criterion release, of course, it’s Spirited Away. The film tells the dazzling journey of a young girl who is mysteriously transported into a fantasy world upon moving into a new neighborhood.
There’s a reason why this film is known for its iconic imagery, character design, and narrative; being one of, if not the most praised anime films of all time. Hayao Miyazaki has a legendary catalog, but Spirited Away feels like the most appropriate choice, being a film that most people unify in calling a masterpiece. It’s an impeccable visual, influential, and spiritual marvel that would fit right at home within the Criterion Collection alongside a ton of their other classic film releases.
‘The Rabbis Cat’ (2011)
The Rabbi’s Cat is a very charming and underrated film that tells the story of a rabbi and his cat which gains the ability to speak after swallowing a parrot. And with this newfound ability, he begins to express his desire to convert to Judaism.
The film is a very humorous, smart, and self-aware experience that isn’t afraid to comment, as well as poke fun at a number of mature themes. As well as being a hilarious comedy, the film is also such a visual treat, with amazing animation that spirals into some very stylistic visuals.
‘Waking Life’ (2001)
Waking Life tells the story of a man who wanders through a dreamscape and interacts with a variety of different people and environments. Director Richard Linklater actually already has a few films within the Criterion Collection, with some notable titles being the acclaimed: Before Trilogy, and the classic Dazed and Confused. However, it’s about time one of his animated movies enters the collection.
Waking Life would be a perfect addition as it is a very experimental film that touches on a lot of fascinating themes. It explores the ideas of lucid dreaming and the fantasies of dreams as a whole, as well as the meaning of life, and is presented in a very eye-catching rotoscope style.